God has revealed Himself through His Word to His people.
One of God’s mercies is that He allows us access to the Word in our own language. At the time of hundreds of English translations “competing” for our attention and each extolling its virtues, we may not realize how huge this is.
I grew up in Ukraine during the waning years of the Soviet Union where the religion was despised and true believers were persecuted. Older believers would share stories that oftentimes during the heyday of Soviets’ “militant atheism” a whole church would have only one Bible that had been smuggled through the Iron Curtain. Each person was given this one copy of the Bible for one week to copy whatever he could by hand. Over time each person would have a handwritten incomplete copy of the Bible, which people would then exchange so that everybody could read through the God’s Word.
Given the risk of discovery and possible imprisonment (especially for the preachers, ministers, and anybody who dealt with church finances*), people memorized whole books of the Bible with chapter and verse numbers. First, if memorized, police could not find and confiscate the Bibles during searches. Second, if the Christian was arrested, God’s Word could not be taken away.
Once during 1990’s I heard a sermon by an old blind man in a village in the mountains in Ukraine. His entire sermon consisted of long quotations of God’s Word where he would identify each chapter and verse before he recited each passage from memory. One passage from the Bible explained another. He did not add anything to the passages. I felt goosebumps when I listened to him.
As an aside, every male church member was expected to be able to preach so that it would be difficult for the KGB spies and informants to identify the church leadership and even if the leadership was identified and imprisoned, the preaching of God’s Word would not stop.
This is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, the translation that “brought” God’s Word to English-speaking peoples. The KJV Bible was a miracle and a blessing. With this post, I wanted us to stop for a second and consider how blessed we are to be able to read God’s Word in the translation of our choosing in paperback, hardback, leatherback, on the Kindle, PDA, Nook, iPhone, with Logos Software, BibleWorks, etc.
* My wife‘s late grandfather was sentenced to ten years of hard labor in Siberia for preaching Good News to the youth. When Stalin died in 1953 the grandfather was released after serving “only” three and a half years in the Gulag. The release was under the “Beria’s” general amnesty that freed millions of common criminals, “politicals” and believers.